Tauranga Welcomes You!

Lindsay Garneau | Starting a Swing Scene in Tauranga

Lindsay Garneau

Lindsay Garneau grew up in the small town of Fonthill, just 15 minutes away from Niagra Falls, Canada. After coming to New Zealand on a six-month holiday in 2011, she fell in love with the country and its people and knew that this was where she wanted to call home. 

When a job opportunity drew her to Christchurch she found herself falling in love with the swing scene down there and swing dancing, which she had first discovered in 2010, quickly became a passion. So much so that when Lindsay and her Kiwi partner, Scott, decided to move to Tauranga in 2018, she resolved to kick-start a swing scene in her new city, and Bay City Swing was born.

This is her story.

 

Lindsay, how would you describe your career history?

In a nutshell – very diverse. I’ve worked with horses, exotic animals, been a personal trainer, worked in banking, hospitality.. you name it! I was initially working towards getting a work visa here as a sole charge groom in Dannevirke, but my employer didn’t live up to his end of the deal, so I left. I had to call on my office skills and that is what has led me to where I am today.

What was your life in Christchurch like?

I came to Christchurch after the earthquakes had taken their toll. I hadn’t planned on it, but I wasn’t yet a resident and I wasn’t having much luck securing a work visa in the North Island. I was asked to interview for a role with City Care in Christchurch, so I hopped on a plane, and the very next week I drove down there to live. I spent over four years working for City Care. After deciding I needed a change of pace, I took on a role as a coordinator for a lovely little IT company.

When did you first start thinking about moving to Tauranga?

I’ve always loved the North Island, but my partner, Scott,  wasn’t convinced. He’s a southern man through and through!  He hadn’t really explored the northen end of the island, so a couple of years ago we decided to go on a road trip to the Bay of Plenty and Northland. I used to live in Northland and had always wanted to come back and Scott was looking to change his path. 

Of the places we visited, Tauranga seemed perfect. It’s beautiful, has lots of shorelines, is not too big, but large enough that you have all of your amenities. Needless to say, when we got back home, Scott was keen to move!

How has your partner changed his career path since moving to Tauranga?

Scott was a painter when he was younger but went back to school when he was 30. He studied architecture and has degrees in building sciences and project management, so has been working in the corporate environment for the past decade. He decided he’d like to has had his own company, and because of Tauranga’s growth, it seemed the perfect base for Scott’s business vision. He has begun Kelly Painting and Decorating since moving here.

Can you tell us about your own start-up, Bay City Swing?

I’ve come from a bright and booming swing scene down south and I would love for it to be the same here!   I founded Bay City Swing to encourage that.  We offer dance performances, workshops, and classes and specialize in a variety of dances from the 1920s to–40s, including Lindy Hop, Balboa, Charleston, Solo Jazz, Shag, and more! 

The more people get involved, the more infectious it becomes. I might even have a slightly overambitious vision of eventually creating a larger live jazz scene through dancing. Down south, the dancers and big bands have a wonderfully reciprocal relationship, a little bit like I’d imagine it was in the old days. I was surprised that even though Tauranga has the largest Jazz festival in the country, that there wasn’t already a swing scene here.

My partner doesn’t dance and promoting a partner dance alone has its challenges! I’ve been fortunate enough to have some swing dancers come to town for periods of time. The other local dance scenes have been very encouraging as well as the Jazz Society. I’ve finally got a keen core of dancers that are helping out and I’m stoked for this next year. We have our first big event on March 23rd,  which happens to be Bay City Swing’s one-year anniversary.

What do you love about dancing?

I started dancing in 2010 and instantly fell in love with the freedom and connection with other people. It’s a whole different way of communicating, but the dances I do have a great sense of humour as well. It’s all about having fun and giggle fits!

What are you doing work-wise in Tauranga?

While Bay City Swing is a business, we operate it as a not-for-profit.  Running costs do need to be covered but it exists primarily for the love and preservation of dance.

I have continued in my role as coordinator for the small IT company in Christchurch. They are wonderful to work for. I handed in my resignation and said, “I’m not leaving you, I’m leaving Christchurch”. They didn’t think that was a great idea, so now I work from home in Tauranga and they fly me down when required.

What do you do for fun or to relax here in Tauranga?

When we can find the time, we love to go fishing, swimming, cycling, walking, and tramping. I also LOVE growing things – most recently my Kawakawa seeds just germinated! I am also a sucker for a spot of opp-shopping, which Tauranga has no shortage of. Last, but not least, the craft beer scene is awesome here and a frosty pint on a hot day is magic.

What’s your take on Tauranga’s creative scene?

It’s low-key, but once you find it, you see there is a lot going on! There are some especially neat things happening down at The Incubator/Jam Factory, Our Place and The Rising Tide.

How do you describe Tauranga to your Christchurch friends?

“It’s paradise and there’s nowhere else I would rather be. I still look around every day in awe at how beautiful it is. Come visit and see for yourself.”

What has moving to Tauranga meant: 

For your career? New challenges to rise and adapt to.

For your wellbeing? I am heavily impacted by climate and really struggled with it down south, but I feel so comfortable here. The sea, the lush surroundings, the birdlife…. my soul feels at home. Working at home also gives me more hours in my day.

For your relationships and social wellbeing? To be honest, in terms of meeting people, it’s been a bit challenging moving to a new place and then working from home, but it’s getting there. I still get to see my friends down south and I get to see my friends in Auckland more.

 

Gets You Thinking Doesn’t It?

No one can tell you when you’re ready for a change of lifestyle…but when you are, we’d love to have you in Tauranga!

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